Here in Los Angeles, this was the fifth driest rain season since 1877. On the Colorado River, the beginning of this century has been the driest stretch in recorded history. From Northern California, little supply is predicted for next year absent a dramatic change in the weather.
It's no easy task to develop an action plan to address the many water challenges facing California in the coming years. The Brown Administration just released a draft plan that tries to put all the pieces together in a way that works for both the environment and economy. It's a solid start.
When surveyed in 2012 by the Public Policy Institute of California, scientists who conduct research in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta stated that the restoration of habitat, above all other actions, was their highest priority. Progress has come slowly, but it is finally beginning to happen thanks to direct actions by Metropolitan and other public water agencies.
Just over a week ago, a series of events began to unfold rapidly at Oroville Dam.
On Feb. 7, dam operators at the California Department of Water Resources began to increase releases from Lake Oroville, the state's second largest reservoir and primary storage for the State Water Project, to prepare for an incoming storm. They noticed debris coming down the concrete-lined main spillway and, after stopping the water, found that the concrete floor of the spillway had begun to erode. Releases were slowly resumed and a delicate balancing act began between releasing water and protecting the structure from longer-term damage.
It wasn't so long ago that we had the smallest imported supply in our history coming to Southern California from Northern California. Back then our operations team scrambled to re-engineer our water system to meet demands by moving available supplies from the Colorado River to parts of our service area that were previously "plumbed" only to get supplies from the north.
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Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, issues the following statement regarding the draft State Water Action Plan released today by the California Natural Resources Agency, California Department of Food and Agriculture and California Environmental Protection Agency.